I just returned from a long weekend with my dad, step mom, and little brother inStamford,Connecticut. It was a very long drive there—about eight hours—because of traffic going past the shore points inNew Jersey, then around busyNew York City. Of course, the bumper-to-bumper was well worth it when I finally got to see my sweet dad. He has been suffering from a very serious blood disorder since last summer, and was just last month released from the hospital after a long stay in isolation. His prognosis looks good, and he seems to be making a full recovery. He is almost completely bald though from the chemo, so that was quite a shock upon first glance. Dad was still dad under that bald head though, and I was thrilled to see him and spend some much needed quality time with my “Yankee” family.
My step mother is seriously one of the sweetest people on earth, and she is most definitely a nurturer. And by nurturer, I mean she loves to feed me. Every morning of my stay, she made a giant gourmet breakfast (she would argue that there was nothing gourmet about them, but when you are used to nothing but a cup of coffee and maybe a protein shake or couple of eggs, gourmet takes on a whole new meaning). We had fresh homemade fruit salad, toasted bagels with a plethora of spreads, lox (that’s Jewish for smoked salmon), sliced tomato, and scrambled eggs. On the first night after my arrival, my dad picked up four huge pizzas and two salads from their favorite local spot. And on Sunday, I decided to cook for the family and made my famous chicken tacos with fresh mango-avocado salsa. Mama bear insisted we serve corn muffins with them. I of course couldn’t be rude, so along with my cheese and sour cream topped tacos (wait, that’s dairy right?), I also housed a few corn muffins….mmm, sweet and delish.
Saturday was the most epic food day of all. We all piled in the car and headed to Manhattanto spend the day exploring a few of New York’s quaintest tourist sights. We started off in Chinatown, where we lunched on dumplings and steaming bowls of noodle soup. Afterward, we strolled along the streets, visiting vendors and making our way over to Little Italy. I have never seen anything like this place, ever. I likened it to being on a movie set. The street was lined with tables that spilled over from restaurants, one after another after another. Big windows showcased giant slabs of prosciutto ham and wheels of fresh parmesan. Vendors with carts beckoned for folks to buy their homemade gelato and cannoli in every flavor imaginable. I absolutely could not resist these, and neither could my family; tiramisu gelato and a cannoli for my teen brother, coffee gelato for dad and I, and double chocolate for my step mom. Several hours and lots of sights later, we found ourselves inGreenwich Village looking for (gasp!) a place to eat dinner. I honestly couldn’t believe we were about to put more food into our bodies. We ended up at a charming little Italian place called Porto Bello, where I decided on Chianti and a half-order of linguine with sautéed mushrooms and fresh herbs. I don’t even smoke (it’s gross!), but I felt like lighting up after that one.